Eye ministry fights blindness in Ghana

By March 18, 2008

Ghana (MNN) — There are roughly
20 million people living in Ghana, of which 10-percent are blind and 30-percent
struggle with visual impairment. Most of
these problems are preventable. 

For example, cataract is the
leading cause of blindness. It is
treatable by operation and optical correction.

According to statistics from the
Ghana Eye Foundation, each year tens of thousands of people become blind from
cataract in both eyes, and thousands of others become blind in only one eye. This means that in order to keep pace with
the newly-blind patients and to see a reduction in the rate of cataract blindness,
at least 44,000 eyes need the cataract operation.    

That's an overwhelming statistic
in a place where eye care is not even readily available in every
community. When you add to that the
poverty levels, few can afford the surgery they would need to correct the

International Aid's Faye Kragt (crawt)
says that's one reason why they launched an eye clinic in Ghana. Their goal is to see it eventually stand on
its own. "International Aid is helping support it because we see a lot of
patients who are not able to pay either full cost, or in some of the area
where we work, people are not able to
pay anything at all." 

I-A launched outreach brigades
and training classes aimed at prevention and cure. Optical Outreach Brigades are made up of volunteers
and optical staff from the clinics. They
perform screenings in far-off villages, evaluating the risk of eye disease and
the need for treatment or spectacles.

The other part of this initiative
is the "Healthy Eye" training initiatives. Volunteer staff with International Aid teach primary health care workers and leaders living in rural
villages how to recognize abnormal eye symptoms.

But there's a deeper component to
the outreach, says Kragt. "There's
a lot of Christians who are working at our clinic, so there's that personal
ministry. Many of our volunteers are Christians. When they go to surgery, our doctors there
pray with the staff and the patients, and there's many ways to be able to do
that. We try to make sure that it's not just in word, but it's in

If you want to help support this
outreach, click here.

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